What a 6-pak!

I met Wanda when she was employed behind the counter at route 60 Bob’s Big Boy, Fried Chicken on the front seat, she’s sittin’ in my lap We’re wipin’ our fingers on a Texaco roadmap. I remember Wanda up on scrap metal hill with them big brown eyes that make your heart stand still
-Bruce Springsteen

The heart and soul of the Edmonton Oilers is barely legal. We’ve seen what youth can do, good and bad. Outstanding plays added to questionable decisions and wins and losses (and injuries) in the balance. This season has been about growing pains, disappointment and finally chasing another lottery.

The big picture looks very good. The Oilers window of opportunity will eventually open, and when it does the club should be well positioned to make several runs to the Stanley. Sure, there are question marks about how long the window will stay open (what it comes down to is how many seasons of free agency will the club be able to buy from their very best young players) but we’re back at the beginning.

I think it’s important to remember a few things about this hockey club, to write these things down so we can remember them 10 years after:

  1. Taylor Hall (65gp, 22-20-42) would have skated right past Steven Stamkos’ rookie numbers if he’d been healthy. He might be just short of a "generational" talent but we don’t know that yet. The young man put swagger back in the Oilers resume for the first time in decades. I’ll remember his rookie season a long time.
  2. Jordan Eberle (56gp, 15-21-36) showed a wide range of skills and the kind of sixth sense around the net we saw decades ago in Steve Shutt. A savvy player who barely shaves, he’s a born leader and with a very large tool kit and a very big brain.
  3. Magnus Pääjärvi (67gp, 10-16-26) may be the one person in Edmonton with no idea how good he is. They interviewed his Dad last night during an intermission of the hockey game, and the Father appears to be a lighthearted fellow who is proud of his son. It may take a couple of seasons for the Son to grow up and into his role, but there’s a physical skill winger with brains in there and man he’s going to be something else.
  4. Linus Omark (38gp, 3-15-18) gets overlooked after the two front men and the mannish boy, but he’s a very good magician who may end up staying here a decade. It’s been a learning process, but he has wheels, sick skills and burns to be the best.
  5. Jeff Petry (22gp, 1-2-3) Over at the blog I’ve been rambling for years about the team acquiring blue with a wide range of skills. Not all of the defensemen have to be puck movers or stay-at-homes, it is possible for a complete player to manage all of the roles. Ryan Whitney does it–when healthy–and I believe that could be the future role for Petry. I’m not up on the "top 4D" defintion, but Petry strikes me as a guy who can spend a long time in your top 4D at evens, top 2D at PK and top 2D on the PP. That’s a nice range of skills.
  6. Devan Dubnyk (29gp, 2.75 .915). Among rookie goalies with 20 or more games played this season, Dubnyk’s Sp ranks 5th overall. Add that number to the fact he’s playing in front of a subpar group of defensemen and checkers, and I think we can begin to talk about the big man as a possible solution to the long standing goalie issue. The last homegrown goaltender who played 50 games in an Oiler uniform did it long before many of you were born. Dubnyk may end all of that, as early as next season.

This team reminds me of the 1982 Minnesota Twins. That team was beaten before they drove into the parking lot, but the rookie crop included Frank Viola, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunansky. That’s what could be happening here: the first rumblings of a championship team. These kids need to continue to develop, and they certainly need help via draft and trade, but there’s exceptional quality in impressive quantity.

We should remember that as the losses pile up.

Nation Radio goes at Noon today on Team 1260 Radio. We’ll be live at the Pint downtown and welcome you to drop by and say hello. The show itself includes EJ Mcguire from Central Scouting, David Staples from the EJ, Jonathan Willis from Oilers Nation and many more.

Please send any and all email questions to nationradio@theteam1260.com and I’ll try to get them answered for you.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    After watching Dubnyk play this season in convinced he should start at least 2/3rds of next season, especialy with how piss poorly the d has played this season(they have had some good games with the exception of Gilbert).

    I hope ST can bring in some more help on d via FA because that IMO(outside the drunk in neyt) has been the most glaring weakness this season, i also hope Tammby can find a trade partner for Gilbert, that man has to go!!!

    I do like where the Oilers are headed, with the right moves this off season by ST and a healthy line up with our top players in the games all season next year there should be NO REASON not to get to at least 8th spot and make the playoffs.

    *Hall should get SMAC to teach him how to stand up in a fight in the off season lol

    • Release the Hounds

      and SMAC should get Hall to teach him how to skate with speed and confidence. Can you imagine how valuable a big, tough guy like SMACintyre could be if he could skate and handle the puck?

  • AlbertaMan

    Dubnky’s .915 SV% on the last place team deserves more credit than he is currently getting. I look forward to see his development in future years on an ever-improving team. I think we have a player here.

  • Dutchscooter

    Can we please get off the ‘Gilbert sucks – he has to go’ train please? Yes, he makes mistakes. Who, on this team, doesn’t? Gilbert, at best, is a 3-4 Dman who is playing 1D minutes with Whitney hurt and 2D minutes with Whitney in the lineup. What his play is showing is that he is NOT a 1-2 Dman. That’s fine. I just think that if everyone here got his wish and ran his butt out of town, he’d go to his new team, be slotted into his PROPER D-slot, and flourish. Remember a couple of years ago when he was in that 3-4 D slot? He was really good. Think of Gilbert’s performance this way: If you were a nurse and were forced to do open-heart surgery, you’d stumble, too.

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Great perspective LT. Back in October I didn’t expect to be watching 30th place hockey again but at the same time we all knew that the rebuild would be a process. For the most part the rookies exceeded expectations, which is extremely promising. Now that management and the coaching staff know what they’ve got here let’s hope they start to address some of the glaring shortcomings. Should be another interesting offseason. Until then…. let’s hope those redheaded mongoloid twins and the rest of the j#rkoffs in Vancouver NEVER raise the Cup !!!

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Hey guys, have you ever thought about putting a podcast of the show on iTunes? I know there are times I am working and can’t listen, so a podcast I could put on my phone helps with that.

  • Dutchscooter

    RE Gilbert


    We need to trade the guy who is logging ridiculous minutes. For every mistake you see, you miss 5 good plays from the guy. Whomever among your defense happens to log the most ice, against the best opposing players with less than ideal partners and more often than not is having to try to initiate the breakout from your zone is not going to have a great year.

    Oh that’s right I forgot that he is paid more than league average so he’s got to be a complete bum…

    • a lg dubl dubl

      I agree that it’s much easier to see the negatives in a player, especially one that’s sort of perpetually under the microscope like Gilbert, but I don’t really buy this theory that we’re missing all these good plays that he’s making. He certainly has some skill, he’s a good skater and has decent size, but my impression is that he’s still making the same rookie mistakes he’s always made. I agree that he’s exposed playing top minutes, but he continues to make terrible decisions with the puck that lead to horrendous turnovers, he doesn’t play overly physical, and his point totals are regressing despite increased minutes. He reminds me of a less-talented Ed Jovanovski in the Florida days; he got the nickname “Special Ed” because despite his physical gifts he stubbornly refused to get any better at the thinking part of the game.

      • Saying things like his point totals are regressing despite increased minutes is deceiving. He is now playing those minutes against the other teams best players. No kidding points totals are going to suffer.

        • That’s a fair comment, although he’s still on the power play pretty consistently if I’m not mistaken??? And granted the PP isn’t very good but is he a victim of that or one of the reasons why it’s bad? Besides, that statement pretty much implies that he’ll never be a scorer; it seems to me not many players see their points increase with REDUCED minutes. So if he’s not scoring, not physical, and still prone to terrible decision-making, what is he bringing to the table? Listen, I don’t hate Gilbert; there’s definitely some skill there. But right now he’s basically M-A Bergeron without the points. Ouch

          • Yeah but we could say that about most players on the team. say they arent doing X and X or X so what do they do? Besides the obvious you really could pick out a lot of things about every player. I think its fair to say hes not a top pair D and probably never will be unless something changes drastically. But can we agree to at least give him a chance on this team (hopefully next year) when things arent so bleak all around? Id like to see him in a roll hes built for again.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            That’s also fair. I feel I sound kind of hypocritical when I rag on Gilbert because I also get impatient with the regime shipping (or trying to ship) players out of town as soon as they develop. It’s just with Gilbert the man is going to be 29 years old next year and in his 6th season and there really hasn’t been ANY improvement

  • a lg dubl dubl

    If your going to criticize the D, at least put more onus where the fault actually belongs.

    Management handicapped our D going into the season.

    2. Whitney
    3. Gilbert
    4. Souray (oh nevermind)
    5. Smid
    6. Peckham
    7. Foster
    8. JVM
    9. Strudwick

    That is the problem.

  • @Lowetide,

    Re-Omark, “he’s a very good magician who may end up staying here a decade.”

    A decade is ten years right?

    The Oilers have enough magicians with Eberle & Gagner (Hemsky/RNH)???

    Stanley Cups aren’t won with artistic impression.

    If the Oilers continue to draft Swedes he might stay longer than I expect, but I doubt it.

    10 month Oiler seems more likely.

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    I listened to all your shows this week. I am very impressed LT. Also very very impressed with Mr. Willis. He did a great job as well.

    I’m glad he’s become a regular part of your show.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Yes I know Gilbert is a 3-4 dman at best but my beef with the guy is he does the same glaring mistakes weather hes a 1-2 dman or a 3-4 dman. He doesnt take the body in front of the net or in the corners like A DMAN SHOULD, and he’s forever making ill advised passes out of the zone, he spends more time standing around looking at the puck rather than looking for the forward sneaking in to the net. Thats y id like to see him gone HE SUCKS.
    And really to compare gilbert to a nurse whos has to do heart surgery fyi bud…nurses arent trained to do that Gilbert is trained to be a dman so really your comparision is way off

  • MJM

    I agree with the “get off the Gilbert sucks train” poster.

    This feels like 06/07 again, when all the injuries forced Jason Smith to be the #1 guy, and everyone wanted him on the first plane out of town.

    Granted, tooootally different players, in their skillsets and the stage of their careers.

    But the blueprint remains: players who are successful in 2-4D roles being forced to be 1D and not having the same success, and in turn labeled as terrible.

    Many teams would be quite happy with Tom Gilbert in their second pairing, and a handful would take him as a #2 as well.

    And whatever you do, please don’t reply with the same things your dad yelled at you from the stands in Pee Wee. There’s room for dmen who don’t throw everyone into the boards. In fact, one in Detroit is winding down a Hall of Fame career without ever doing that…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Gilbert gets a pass from me as well, the guy’s in over his head playing a larger role than what he should be (a #4 forced to play in that #1 spot)) he’s done quite well considering.

    For documentation purposes, do we file this kinda talk up there with the trade Horcoff opinions?

    • Dutchscooter

      I say Hell yeah to that, he’s been solid when he has played. I like him on the 3rd with Jones and Cogs or JFJ. Brule with get healthier I’m sure of it. He plays with that passion that’s contagious.

  • kdunbar

    I think we should just buy out every single player that does not shoot the puck when I scream it from the stands.

    Not only is me screaming shooot a gift of my savy hockey sense for free but I have no doubt that guys love hearing these type of instructions while they are trying to focus.

  • kdunbar

    I think to look at the Oilers as Stanley contenders is a stretch. Dont forget the biggest handicap: the management. Chances these guys are getting it right are slim. Plus, even if they do, by the time the fill all the holes the kids are either old or gone.

  • kdunbar

    I would call this group the 4 pack. Omark has not shown nearly enough to say he is e likely player in the NHL. 3 goals in ~ 30 games for a one dimesional offensive player doe not auger well.

    I think it is a bit early to make the call on Petry. I have been impressed with him but the sample size is very limited.

  • kdunbar

    Next season is going to be the turning point for this franchise. The off season will see the addition and subtraction of a number of current roster players. I don’t see the Oilers resigning Brule unless its to a 2 way contract. He is frakin too fragile. The flu kills him for 1-3 months a season. Not reliable enough for me yet. JF gets a 2 way also due to his history. Hasn’t proven a thing. Walks away from so many chances to engage the opponent physically. He gets a contract only because he has size and can skate. Jones. No brainer. Fraser. Has unerwhelmes and has proven to be a marginal 4th line player on this team. A trade may be in his future. Cogs. Has played himself into a solid 3rd line player who can bring energy. I’d resign him. I think that come next season the lines will look like this Hemsky-Horcoff and MP. Hall-Eberle and Gagne. RNH , Cogliano and Omark. Fraser- Hartikainnen-Jones.The wildcard will be does Hemsky resign in the off season? If he does the team will be able to challenge for a playoff spot.